I’ve never understood the appeal of shopping the day after Thanksgiving. It’s not the crass commercialization of Christmas that bothers me. After a long period of the convert’s pecksniffery about decorating for Christmas during Advent, I’ve made my peace with the (Protestant) American way. We don’t do it that way in our house, but I’ve stopped looking down my nose at people who do – what is the point of being resentful that most people in a majority Protestant nation don’t observe Advent?
I even have a couple of serious Catholic friends who do all their decorating the day after Thanksgiving precisely because they want to live Advent in peace.
No, the nature of my objection is carnal. First, there’s never any real reason to go to a mall at all in my worldview. Second, the day after all that food and drink seems to me like an excellent day not to get dressed or even to get up, except to turn from one side to the other while reading in bed, or –if you’re one of those health nuts who insists on daily exercise– to shift from the bed to the sofa for movies under blankets with whichever kids will tolerate maternal cuddling as the price for the screen time they crave.
What possessed me two years ago to promise to take my daughter shopping for her birthday (which sometimes falls on Thanksgiving) I do not know. Colossal ignorance, I suppose. Having never experienced “Black Friday” before, I thought surely the tales of malls without parking spaces and long lines to enter fitting rooms were exaggerated and blew them off.
Serious error in judgment on my part.
I did hint upon seeing the crowds in the parking lot that perhaps another day would be better, but the crestfallen look on the Dear Child’s face at the prospect of having to wait one more day for a pair of jeans that weren’t as short as capris on her suddenly-taller frame was more than I could take, especially since she never asks for anything.
So off we went, and we only had to circumnavigate the mall three times to park. Four hours later we emerged with not much, really. We did hit on girls’ fashion gold: a really flattering pair of jeans. The last pair in her size, so we could not stock up, alas: but at least we found a pair (literally the last in the store) of just normal jeans and not the abomination of both fashion and English known as the “jegging” which was all the rage in the pre-teen set that year. [Insert rant about parents who dress their twelve-year-olds as if they intended to trade them for camels here.]
Waiting in line for a fitting room is tedious under any circumstances, but this was the pre-teen section, so the girls went in three at a time and giggle and gossip about boys as they change, blithely unaware of the line building up behind them. The opinions of their present friends being insufficient, they texted photos of themselves to other pals off-site and waited for them to phone in with their opinions.
“The green one? You really think the green and not the blue?”
“OMG, you are like totally hot in the green!”
“Shut up, I am not hot!”
“You totally are!”
“OMG, you’re so sweet, I love you!”
“I love you too!”
After an interminable period of time and a lot of huffing and begging them to finish from moms in line, “the green one” carried the day, and out of the dressing room stepped a pretty little thing in cheap make-up, chomping bubble gum. She would look good in anything, but the dress was hideous. An avocado sheath with some kind of brown organza overlay. I debated intervening: “Stop! You look like a 1970s kitchen!” but decided the laughs she’d get from her photo album in a few years would be worth it for her.
Then it was on to the payment line, after which we beat tail out of there for “lunch” at 4 pm. The joy of having no boys along is one occasionally gets to try something not a taco, burger or pizza, so we went to an Ethiopian place, where my daughter did well for herself and I apparently ordered Lentils from Hell. Tasty, but fiery (and I like heat). I think the back of my throat is still burning.
I enjoyed being with my daughter, who is lovely and turning out well in spite of her parents. But I made her promise not to let me go out on Black Friday ever, ever again.